Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Beijing Day Two

Today's trip to the Great Wall was amazing, awesome and nearly killed me (just kidding). We hired a taxi with a couple of young med students from Calgary and went to the Ming Tombs and the Wall. The tombs were a little disappointing because it wasn't the part that I wanted to see, it was the underground vaults with the giant coffins. the coffins were interesting structurally because they were made of wood but other than that it was ho-hum.

Now the Wall, now that is another story. We went to one of the more out of the way portions of this wall - there are others that are more treacherous. I was told this one isn't bad but oh my god this one was pretty damned high and the steps were tough. with my knee being in pretty bad shape I had to be careful - some of the granite steps were about 18" high, that after about 15 mins, I decided to wimp out - turned back and took a cable car to the top and walk down the whole way (it turned out to be a very smart thing because even going down there were steep inclines UP and DOWN) High school kids who chose to go all the way up were having a hard time. so I probably avoided having to be taken down in a gurney by taking the cable car up.

We took a bajillion pictures but it was best to just be able to walk and peer over the landscape, which at the moment is very dreary and drab - matter of fact, the land around here is very parched and dry. kind of depressing, its a combination of being here in winter and a lack of maintenance of the surrounding areas. China could learn a lesson or two about monument maintenance and preservation from Japan.

It took about three hours to come down the wall - of course we were taking our sweet time. But it was really great to be on this thing and wonder at how they could have conceived of this, very monumental and psychological barrier. I wouldn't say the wall was very impenetrable (sp sorry), you could scale it easily. As Luci said it was more of a psychological barrier to indicate the isolationist culture of that time.

but the way the wall meanders around the mountain peaks is quite amazing and it really does look like dragon.

check out my pics on

On a more personal note I should be in much better shape when I get home.

We had a GREAT fish dinner last night the food here is very good, I love good chinese food and there isnt much of that in San Diego.

It seems that our biggest difficulty is the fact that our hotel, which is TERRIFIC, its cute, different, cozy and authentic, is located in a Hutong (old beijing neighborhood) but is HARD FOR TAXICABS to find. we end up getting dropped off 'near' where they think it is and then we wander for hours within a three block section of town (ok not hours but after scaling the Wall for three hours and being exhausted 20 minutes felt like hours). And while luci understands some chinese its hard for her. I can't entirely blame her.


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